The Norman Transcript

September 26, 2013

Norman apartment complex to host safety social Friday

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A Norman apartment complex will be the first to celebrate being fully certified in the Crime Free Norman program designed to help reduce crime in the community.

A safety social is set for 4 p.m. Friday at Vicksburg Village Apartments for residents. They will learn about the process the apartment complex management went through to certify the property as crime free, all while enjoying a cookout.

Master Police Officer Teddy Wilson, coordinator of the program, said they have been working with Vicksburg Apartments since October 2012. The program had three phases the complex had to go through to reach full certification.

Phase 1 includes participating in an eight-hour training course in crime prevention. Management learns how to use a crime-free lease addendum, which all new tenants or tenants renewing their leases are required to sign.

It is an agreement that allows management to terminate a lease if one of their residents participates in any criminal, drug or gang activity, Wilson said. After completing Phase 1, a certificate is issued to the manager acknowledging the completion of the training.

Phase 2, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Survey, includes a security survey of the property. Wilson said management must meet a minimum of seven requirements, which includes lighting, landscaping and physical security aspects.

For example, part of the landscaping requirements is that bushes on the property do not exceed three feet. Wilson said bushes taller than three feet can provide an ambush point that people can hide behind.

Another example is having enough lighting on the property to where someone can identify the color of someone’s shirt if they are 100 feet away from them, Wilson said. The police department also looks for security features at the complex such as door and window locks. The bigger the property, the longer this phase can take, he said.

Phase 3 is the safety social where residents come together to learn about the program. This phase focuses on community awareness and celebrates the apartment complex becoming fully certified with the right to post the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program sign.

The complex must then stay compliant with Phases 1 and 2, or the certificate will expire.

Thirteen other apartment complexes in Norman are trying to become fully certified Crime Free properties. Whether that may expand to condominiums or other properties is still in question.

“We’re hoping more programs come out like this in the city, but right now, the focus is on apartments,” Wilson said.

The only other city in the state that Wilson believes participates in the program is Midwest City. The parent program has reached communities internationally, including those in Canada, Mexico, England, Japan, Russia and more.

Some other cities also have made the program’s requirements part of the city’s ordinance, but with Norman still in the trial phase, Wilson said that’s not something they’re looking at right now. The program is designed to be a voluntary program.

As Chief Keith Humphrey has said before, they want to “make Norman the safest city in America,” Wilson said, adding that the program is one more step to help them do that.

In addition to the safety social, the Norman Police Department also will host “National Night Out” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday for the public. It encourages residents to get out of their houses and get to know their neighbors and local police officers.

Those interested in participating in National Night Out or interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group can call Sgt. Jennifer Newell at 366-5267 or

email jennifer.newell@

normanok.gov.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com